Meet the Whiz Kid
Bernstein, Jacob, Newsweek
Byline: Jacob Bernstein
He's gifted, talented, and chummy with the A-List. Introducing Thomas Horn.
Among this year's list of leading men, perhaps none is quite as unexpected as Thomas Horn. A 14-year-old high-school freshman from Oakland, he had no acting experience when he was cast in the adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer's bestselling novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. The only time he had spent in front of a camera was dominating Jeopardy! during Kids Week.
But in July 2010 the film's producer, Scott Rudin, saw his Jeopardy! win and suggested he audition. "I wasn't sure I should," Horn says, sitting in a hotel room on a recent afternoon, drinking a cup of tea. "But then I realized I was a bit curious."
Two months later he met his future costars, Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. Then the director, Stephen Daldry (The Reader), called Horn and offered him the central role: a boy named Oskar whose father (Hanks) is killed on 9/11. One day, Oskar--brilliantly precocious and possibly afflicted with Asperger's--finds a key in his father's closet and vows to figure out what it unlocks.
It's a harrowing journey about love, family, and loss, and Horn doesn't pretend making the film was easy. …